I’m now back in the UK, sat having a proper brew and catching up on Broadchurch. As I make plans to see all the people I’ve missed, I’ve decided I need to do something I’m not usually great at in real life – a thank you note. I always mean to, but then I get distracted, and then it’s too late and all horribly Britishly awkward so I don’t bother.
Not this time.
The last stop was America, so I’m taking a leaf out of their book and giving it a Thanksgiving vibe (sans smallpox).
I am thankful for:
All of my family and friends and even distant acquaintances who have supported me with messages, Snapchats, videos… basically, all the little ways you took a second out of your day to make mine.
To the ones who took time to double check schedules and prices when I’d corralled myself into a Skyscanner/Air BnB/Greyhound cul-de-sac of hell, you saved my sanity and there is an extra special place in my technophobic heart for you.
To the Mighty Dylv, who put up with my constant mocking on Skype; who worry about me every single day but still smile, and encourage me, and give me the bravery to make the scary decisions.
I’m grateful for the pet sits, even (or most especially?) the ones involving a mildly autistic dog and a stunt artist cat. I expected the sits to be a way of seeing new places, and saving on accommodation. I didn’t expect to fall in love with each and every animal, or to cry as I left a certain elderly Maltese and her beautiful owner in New York.
I expected my main gains from this trip to be the experiences in each country, the things I did for myself. In reality, the greatest benefit has come from the people around me in each new town and city. I’m thankful for the friendships I’ve rekindled and strengthened. The brand new relationships I’ve made, the people who I now can’t imagine life without. My world is now so much bigger, reaches further, but is so much more accessible, all because of the attitudes of the people I’ve met. I’ve learnt to think more about the world around me, to do the little thing without immediately thinking it futile.
My final special thank you is for Amy Lou. For far too many reasons to list here, and in ways that probably won’t make sense to anyone else. I am so thankful to have you as my friend and my travel buddy.
You are the tortoise to my hare, my fellow sheeps, my mountain unicorn herder.
If anyone is considering a long travel trip, you should find someone like Amy as a travel partner. I say ‘ like’, simply because you can’t have actual Amy, I’m calling eternal dibs. Sorry A.
You can keep your survival skills, language expertise, even your sense of direction. The qualities you need are someone with a sense of humour, who can put up with your crap. The kind who doesn’t throw you under the nearest bus/tram/yellow taxi when you lead them in the wrong direction for the fourth time that day, when it’s 30 degrees and they’ve got blisters. The kind who buys Adele tickets drunk at 1am (even if they do then blame it on you). The sort of person who is not only by your side wielding a shovel as you dig your own beach bath in the middle of the night, but more importantly has the foresight to bring Prosecco.
As cliché as it is, I’ve had the trip of a lifetime. Whether I’ve spoken to you every day or we’ve just occasionally chatted on Facebook; if I’ve known you my whole life, or just a few weeks – I couldn’t have done it without you.
Ta muchly, I bloody love you all xxx